Tropical Storm / Hurricane Preparedness
Hurricane Boat lifts are engineered and designed to meet or exceed all state and federal wind-load requirements. However, there are other considerations that homeowners must keep in mind when planning for an approaching storm.
Tropical Storms and Hurricanes are violent storms which can be unpredictable and affect very large areas. They have sustained winds that range anywhere between 39 mph to more than 157 mph, cause significant tidal surges and are accompanied by major amounts of rainfall which can total over 12” in a relatively short timeframe. Needless to say, they need to be taken seriously as they pose a significant threat to life and property. It is important that you have a plan to protect yourself, your family and your property. Below are some Before, During and After guidelines to help in planning for the protection of your Boat and Boat Lift.
Before The Storm
The safest course of action is always avoidance. So, if time permits relocate your vessel outside of the storm path. If relocation is not possible, the next best thing is to remove your vessel from the lift and store it in an alternate location such as: a Hurricane rated Dry ‘stack’ storage; secured to a boat trailer (if available); or anchorage in a protected bay, canal, or other pocket of water that affords a degree of protection from wind and waves (Hurricane Hole). Keep in mind that the greatest danger posed by the storm events is tidal surge, which has the potential of raising your vessel off the lift, and if attached, could severely damage the vessel and/or the lift. The floatation of the boat can actually pull up the pilings and dock. After removing your vessel from the boat lift be sure to secure the boat lift cradles so they are not whipped by the wind. This can be done easily with rope or ratchet straps.
If the only option is to leave the vessel on its boat lift, the first step is to make sure that everything in / on your boat is secured. Any exposed loose items on board, like seat cushions and canvas, should be removed and stored in a secured area. Critical gear such as engines, generators, and electronics can be “bagged” or removed to protect from rain damage. It is not recommended to cover batteries because it may trap escaping gasses and cause an explosion hazard. One of the most critical preparations is to make sure you have a reliable drain system so that your vessel does not fill up with water. Water weighs ~8.4 lbs./gal. so any significant accumulation could overload the lift capacity. Remember, it is not uncommon for rainfall to exceed 12 inches and it falls in a relatively short timeframe! We do not recommend relying on bilge pumps since they can be rendered useless in a storm. Instead, find the external drain plug, which is located in the stern at the lowest point of the vessel and remove it. Be sure to check that there are no obstructions to the flow of water to the drain. Make sure that all of your deck scuppers are clean and free flowing. After everything in / on your boat is secured and it is prepared for the rainfall, the next step is to secure the vessel with the boat lift. Raise your lift to the maximum height without overlapping cables. You want to get your vessel above the estimated tidal surge height if possible. Next secure your vessel to the Boat Lift and/or adjacent structure to prevent it from moving. This can be done rope or ratchet straps. Last step is to take pictures of your secured vessel on the lift. You may need them when dealing with your insurance company.
During The Storm
Take shelter in a safe location to protect yourself from injury. If you have followed the guidelines above take comfort in knowing that you have done everything reasonably possible to protect your vessel. Remember, your vessel is replaceable…YOU are not!
After The Storm
Examine the vessel exterior for any damages that the storm could have caused (holes, missing or damaged parts, etc.) and take plenty of pictures to document the condition. Clean up any debris and remove the ropes / ratchet straps used to secure the boat. CAUTION: make sure you re-install the drainage plug before lowering your boat into the water!
If there are noticeable damages, the pictures of your preparations and the after storm condition of your vessel will be important for discussions with your insurance company.